REPORT CARD VS. TITANS
PASSING OFFENSE: B minus
Quinn Gray played just well enough to win the game. His numbers weren't spectacular as he threw for only 101 yards and had an 82.0 quarterback rating. But he didn't throw an interception and made some big plays when he had to, notably a 13-yard pass to Ernest Wilford on a second-and-eight play at the Tennessee 22 to keep the first drive rolling and a four-yard pass to Dennis Northcutt on fourth-and-two at the Tennessee 39 to keep the final scoring drive alive. He also rolled out on a 15-yard run on third-and-10 at the Tennessee 21 on that drive. But the Jaguars were cautious, running the ball on third-and-12 and third-and-11 before punting in the second period. David Garrard said he'll be ready next week and if he is, Gray did his job by going 2-1 in three starts.
RUSHING OFFENSE: B-plus
The offensive line didn't miss Chris Naeole as Mo Williams stepped in for him at right guard and the line dominated the Titans, who came into the game as the league's best defense against the rush. The Titans were hurt by the absence of Albert Haynesworth, their best defensive lineman who was inactive with a hamstring injury, but the Jaguars line opened the holes as they put together a pair of 13-play touchdown drives in the first half. They twice converted on fourth-and-one and once on third-and-one and Maurice Jones-Drew got the second touchdown on an eight-yard run on third-and-two. Fred Taylor reached the 10,000-yard milestone while rushing 16 times for 45 yards and Jones-Drew ran for 101 yards.
PASS DEFENSE: A
The Jaguars showed the way to beat the Titans is to stop their running game and force Vince Young to throw. Despite all the hype about Young, he came in ranked 33rd in a 32-team league with a 61.5 quarterback rating and eight interceptions to just three touchdowns in the first eight games. The Titans also ranked 31st in the league in passing offense. Once the Jaguars stopped the run and got the lead, the game was in Young's hands and he couldn't beat them. They sacked him four times and intercepted him twice. Young showed he's not on the same page with his receivers on the final drive of the first half when he threw one way and the receiver turned the other way on consecutive plays. Reggie Hayward, who struggled early in the year coming back from a torn Achilles tendon, showed he's getting healthier as he collected 2.5 sacks and Brian Williams returned after two games to shore up the secondary and got an interception for the third consecutive game.
RUSH DEFENSE: A
The Jaguars showed they learned the lessons of the first game when they didn't stay in their gaps and got caught out of position as they were gashed for 282 rushing yards. This time, they stayed in their lanes and gave up 62 yards rushing, 52 by Young and just 10 net yards by the running backs. They set the tone on the first series when they held LenDale White to four, one, two and minus-four yards on his first four carries. And when the Titans tried to run out of a four-receiver formation, the Jags were ready for that tactic. The Titans also missed Chris Brown, who had 175 yards in the first game but was inactive with an ankle injury. White wound up with just 12 yards on eight carries and left midway through the third period with an injury. But once the Titans fell behind 21-3, they had to abandon the run.
SPECIAL TEAMS: C plus
John Carney's inability to kick long field goals played a key role in the game. On their first two drives, they twice went for it on fourth-and-one from the Titans' 33- and 32-yard lines rather than try long field goals. The strategy worked as they went in to score touchdowns. But in the third period, they tried a fake field goal on fourth-and-two at the Titans 31 and Tennessee stuffed it and went in to score a touchdown. They need Josh Scobee, who did some warming up before the game but was inactive, back to give them a field-goal kicker with a big leg. Punter Adam Podlesh continued to struggle as he dropped a snap late in the game and boomed a punt into the end zone from midfield. But they did a good job of limiting Chris Henry to a 13-yard average on five kickoff returns to stop them from getting good field position.
This was a critical moment for coach Jack Del Rio and defensive coordinator Mike Smith. Del Rio was dealing with all the distractions after the off-the-field problems last week and had to keep his team focused in the wake of the rout in New Orleans last Sunday. And they were playing a division game on the road against a team that rushed for 282 yards against them in the first game. And it was a game they had to win if they were to remain in good position in the wild-card race. Just when it looked as if Del Rio might be losing his team, he pulled them together and they came in ready to play and dominate. And Smith had the defense ready to stop the Titans running game that shredded them in the opener. If the Jaguars make the playoffs, this could be remembered as a defining moment for the coaching staff.
Jaguars Report Card vs. Tennessee
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